2011 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Alert: Tampa Bay Ray SP Jeremy Hellickson

Andrew SwansonContributor IIJanuary 25, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 20:  Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum  on August 20, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have been busy this off season, trading Matt Garza to the Cubs and Jason Bartlett to the Padres for a handful of prospects. 

Although the loss of Garza may upset some Tampa fans, it likely opens the door for the highly touted Jeremy Hellickson to become part of the team’s starting rotation.  

Hellickson was drafted right out of high school, taken in the fourth round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Rays. He quickly made a name for himself in the minor leagues and was named one of the top 20 prospects of 2010 by Baseball America

In 2010, the young pitcher posted an impressive 12-3 record with a 2.72 ERA and 123 strikeouts for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, earning himself the Minor League Player of the Year award by both USA Today and Baseball America

The Rays gave Hellickson his first major league start on August 2, 2010 against the Minnesota Twins

The youngster did not disappoint, throwing seven strong innings with six K’s and two earned runs. He made four more starts for the Rays in 2010, earning a win in all four outings while posting a respectable 3.47 ERA.

In addition, Hellickson became the first pitcher since 1920 to pitch at least six innings while allowing three hits or fewer in his first three starts. 

Tampa Bay has a solid young rotation of young arms that will allow Hellickson to work from the back of the rotation, while learning how to pitch in big games from proven stars like David Price and James Shields.

The one big concern for Hellickson owners is that young righty will face off against the highly competitive AL East, with the re-tooled Boston Red Sox and the ever-powerful New York Yankees

One also must wonder how much run support the Rays offense will provide now that Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Jason Bartlett have left via free agency and trades. 

It would be silly not to expect some decline in production. The only question is how much, and how many wins will it cost Price and the other pitchers. 

We anticipate that Hellickson will garner a lot of attention by other fantasy writers this season which may cause him to be drafted fairly early in some drafts.

Should he be available towards the latter part of your draft, we recommend using a sleeper pick on him as he could be poised for a breakout season.

This article was originally published on www.kramericasports.com, the home of free fantasy news, rankings, and advice.


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